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A Life Cut Short

NC A&T student shot in front of his home during robbery

whitney@yesweekly.com

Jermane Darnell Clark was living his dream as a linebacker for NC A&T State University’s football team before his life ended early in the morning on April 30 during a violent robbery. Clark, 22, was shot in front of his home on Stedman Street near NC A&T’s campus on the night of April 29. A local patrol officer responding to a 911 call found Clark on the ground suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.

Clark was taken to Moses Cone Hospital and pronounced dead soon thereafter. Greensboro police believe the student-athlete’s death is the result of a marijuana transaction that turned deadly.

The 6’2” Clark was a sophomore studying psychology at NC A&T. Clark lived with his girlfriend, who ran from their home after hearing gunshots outside to find Clark bleeding heavily.

Jermane Clark, above at left, pictured with a friend who sent out condolences via Twitter when news of his death broke. At right, students in Greensboro left flowers and notes at a make-shift memorial outside the home where Clark was gunned down.

Clark grew up in Lynchburg, Va. but moved in with his aunt and uncle in Winston-Salem during high school.

Mike Propst coached Clark at R.J.Reynolds High School in Winston- Salem and recalled that Clark had experienced a rough time in Lynchburg, but that the change of scenery seemed to help. “He never missed anything. Never missed a day of school and never missed practice,” said Propst.

It seemed that Clark had his sights set on playing college football and was willing to do whatever it took to make that happen. Clark kept his grades up and even attended summer school to ensure that he could continue to play football.

“He always talked about wanting to play college football,” said Propst. “I had a great relationship with him. He was so quiet and reserved. We hit it off right off the bat. He was a really good student and great kid. I loved him very much.”

After graduating from R.J. Reyn olds, Clark attended Oak Ridge Military Academy for a year before being recruited to play for the University of Colorado. He later transferred to NC A&T.

Knowing how far Clark had come made the news of his death even more devastating for Propst. “I can hardly put into words how sad I am. I’m just heartbroken.”

The NC A&T campus was stunned by Clark’s death. Students and neighbors placed flowers, balloons and letters near the spot where Clark was shot. Many of the items were inscribed with Clark’s jersey number, 52.

Campus officials offered condo lences as news of Clark’s death spread quickly. “I can’t express how deeply saddened we are by this loss,” said NC A&T Director of Athletics Earl Hilton. “Our hearts go out to his family, friends and teammates. As a department, we will do all we can to comfort and support them.”

“This is a tragedy for our university and our football team,” said NC A&T Head Football Coach Rod Broadway.

Grieving students were encouraged to seek support from the university’s Office of Counseling Services while continuing to juggle the stress of endof-semester exams.

Brianne Alston, a sophomore at NC A&T said that the many students on campus seemed to be affected. “The mood has been hectic,” said Alston. “All of this is happening at once.”

Despite the turmoil, Alston and about 200 students took time to honor Clark with a memorial service on April 30.

A local church held the memorial service for Clark at about 5 p.m. on campus in an outdoor area known as Bluford Circle. Pastor Bill Russell leads the college ministry at One Church Assemblies of God and coordinated the event.

“As campus ministry leader, it’s saddening to see any student lose their life, especially to violence,” said Russell.

Russell said that many of the students in his ministry attend NC A&T and that some of those students knew Clark. On Tuesday night, he and some of the students were together playing the card game Phase 10 when word of Clark’s shooting started pouring in through social media outlets. The distraught students began to pray together and decided they wanted to host a similar prayer session on campus the following day.

Russell and students in the church reached out to campus ministries and announced the memorial event on Twitter and Facebook.

The rain cleared just before 5 p.m. and the university Gospel Choir gathered to lead the attendees in a few songs. Members of the football team in attendance were very emotional and initially hesitant to speak. Eventually three teammates came forward to share memories of Clark and spoke about how he had a big heart.

Other students just held one another up when overcome by tears. Many struggled to understand how this had happened to their friend.

Two suspects were arrested on May 1 and charged with Clark’s murder.

Captain Michael Richey is the Commander of the Criminal Investigations Division at the Greensboro Police Department and is looking into the connection between Clark and his assailants.

“We do not believe this is a random event,” said Richey. According to the Greensboro Police Department, a quarter-pound pound of marijuana was stolen from Clark before he was murdered. Richey believes that Clark intended to sell the drugs. Police said that a transaction between Clark and the suspects led to an altercation that resulted in Clark being robbed and shot. The marijuana was the only thing stolen from Clark.

Kendrick Robinson, 22, and Lemiah Sanders, 20, were taken into custody and charged with first-degree murder and robbery with a deadly weapon. They are being held without bond.

Both suspects have criminal records. Robinson was arrested for robbery with a dangerous weapon in March of 2012 and served time in Guilford County before being released in July 2013. Sanders is currently on probation after being arrested in January 2012 for possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell. Sanders was also arrested for first-degree murder in January 2012, but the District Attorney dismissed the case.

Richey says that evidence, witness interviews and standard police work led to the arrests of Robinson and Sanders. Sanders and Robinson were both arrested in their homes around 7:00 a.m on May 1. A Violent Criminal Apprehension Team (VCAT) was sent to both homes and arrests were made without incident.

Richey stated that the department is “confident we have accounted for all the parties involved,” and added that there could be further charges.

The Greensboro Police Department is hopeful that Sanders and Robinson will cooperate and begin to provide more information as they are interviewed. An autopsy performed on Clark should help to identify what type of gun was used.

As the details unravel, the NC A&T community remains shell shocked by the incident. Greensboro City Councilman, and NC A&T alumnus, Jamal Fox voiced a commitment to make Greensboro a safer city while extending sympathy to Clark’s friends and family. “Greensboro residents have a right to be safe at home, at school, and in their neighborhoods. ” A funeral service for Jermane D.

Clark was held on May 4 at Diamond Hill Baptist Church in his native Lynchburg, Virginia. !

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